When I first heard of 20-year-old English singer Conor Maynard, I was a little reluctant to dive head first into his music. But let’s face it, I have a serious problem when it comes to pop music if it comes straight from the United Kingdom. My addiction is sort of like a raging virus, and the fact that most of these musicians happen to be incredibly attractive – in that horribly distracting way – isn’t helping my affliction either. One Direction has literally wrecked my life, but that’s another story for another day.
When looking at 20-year-old Conor Maynard’s life story, it’s hard not to draw similarities with another fresh-faced pop star who found his way on top of the charts thanks to a little help from YouTube. The English singer decided to upload covers of various pop songs - artists like Ne-Yo, Rihanna, and Taio Cruz, to name a few – in 2006 to his video channel, and eventually his hard work was recognized by one of his favorite musicians, Ne-Yo. In Ne-Yo, Maynard found a worthy mentor, and managed to launch a mainstream career almost instantaneously. His first single “Can’t Say No,” shot to #2 in the UK Singles Chart upon its debut in 2012.
But Maynard is no Bieber, even with the mirrored career trajectories. Maynard is in a class of his own, thanks to the polished, grown-up sound his mainstream releases have emitted from the get-go. If you forget about his humble roots on the world wide web and jump straight ahead to his professional work, he’s basically the pop star that we’ve all been waiting for: irresistibly charming, endearingly humble (sorry, Bieber: the petulance can get a lil’ tiring) and undeniably talented. Oh, and another important thing: there’s no teenybopper past life to shed down the road.
Maynard’s debut studio album, Contrast, easily found its way into my heart with its opening track (how predictable, right?!) But the track, the deviously-titled “Animal,” is a serious tune to consider if you have a taste for pop music that deviates from the norm in all the right ways. “Animal” takes a lot of cues from Rihanna’s equally sinister “Disturbia” with bold lyrics like “So grab me by the neck and don’t you ever let go/Mess me up so good until I’m begging for more.” I was so terribly wrong with my assumptions: Maynard is definitely no baby. As Contrast sets to prove, he’s actually smooth as hell.
Also, a taste of the lyrical genius found in Another One,” for your pleasure: “Voulez vous you know the rest/Merci beaucoup she said and got undressed.” I’ve been waiting for an album like this my entire life.
In a lot of ways, Contrast reminds me of Bieber’s Believe: featured cameos by big-name friends in the industry (Rita Ora, Pharrell and Ne-Yo), pulsing beats, classic R&B influences, and some major falsetto action. In addition, all the tracks contain a sleek production quality that seems to guarantee Maynard’s eventual reign in the charts. But Maynard just delivers more in terms of the overall package compared to Bieber, and it’s simply refreshing to experience as a new listener (I only discovered him a few days ago, and I can’t stop playing his album.) And let’s face it: it’s always great to hear Pharrell’s handiwork again (“Lift Off” and “Glass Girl.”)
What are you waiting for? Try listening to Maynard now if you haven’t already, and tell us what you think!Conor Maynard, Contrast, English musicians, Justin Bieber, Pharrell, UK